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Apex Services Inc Case Study

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I recommend selecting Proposal 2's client/server model for APEX Services Inc.'s (ASI) client case management software. The proposed system is best suited for achieving competitive advantage via an agile information systems architecture. Before implementing the selected proposal, feasibility analysis should be performed, and detailed system design documents and implementation plans need to be developed. Post-system review should be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the new system at enabling ASI's goals.


APEX Services Inc. is a business in the midst of change. Your company has succeeded in managing 29 group homes, but is now expanding into a new market, with plans for rapid growth in the prison management sector. The recommendations I make will be both to meet the company's information system needs in both the short term, and the long term.

The long term goal of ASI is to gain a competitive advantage over business rivals, and thereby grow market share and profitability. For ASI, the way to achieve that goal is to develop agile information systems that can rapidly adapt to novel operating environments, as well as fluidly scale to meet the needs of additional contracts. Each managed site will have unique requirements, and ASI's information systems must be able to meet the requirements of each site in a timely, cost-effective fashion.

ASI's goals are best served by Proposal 2's client/server model. This model has superior efficiency compared to Proposal 1's centralized design, balancing the information processing between the client and server hardware, thereby yielding savings on hardware costs. Furthermore, servers can be added as necessary to accommodate special functions required by individual prison sites, or as required to support an expanding workforce. The cost efficiency and agility offered by Proposal 2 will improve ASI's competitive advantage in the long run.


Before moving forward with implementing an information system, ASI needs to analyze the feasibility of the planned system. Technical, economic, legal, operational, and schedule feasibility are all part of developing an acceptable information system.

Technical feasibility determines if the hardware and software components needed for the system are currently available, or if components can be developed to meet the system's needs. ASI needs to discover if the servers, clients, software interfaces, network infrastructure, applications, and database required by the proposals can be acquired.

Economic feasibility quantifies the fiscal suitability of an information system. The goal is predicting whether the benefits of implementing the system will be a net gain over the costs of implementing the system. ASI needs to know that investing in developing a proposed system will be profitable in the long run.

Legal feasibility studies the impact current and proposed laws have on an information system, and the probability of legal consequences incurred by developing the project. ASI will need to pay particular attention to regulations governing the handling of inmate data, as well as what level of access to data and the Internet inmates are allowed.

Operational feasibility is concerned with logistical considerations of implementing a new system. Assessing if users will accept the system, or if corporate politics will halt the implementation are key considerations.

Schedule feasibility determines if the project can be completed in time, and within budget, to meet the goals and requirements of ASI, and its customers. Ensuring the project is complete on time for the head office move in six months will require detailed, accurate planning.

ASI will need to study these areas of feasibility to ascertain if a proposed project is an acceptable candidate for implementation.


ASI has many options available for evaluating the proposed information systems, with the goal of selecting a system to implement. A group could be appointed from within ASI to evaluate the proposed systems, with the responsibility of reaching a consensus on the most suitable proposal.

Cost/benefit analysis evaluates the proposed systems in purely monetary terms, with the goal of determining which proposal will maximize profit. However, quantifying the value of some benefits may be difficult.

If a baseline level of productivity is known, proposed systems may be evaluated by predicting their expected output levels and comparing them to the baseline, and to each other. This evaluation technique works best when making iterative changes to an established system.

If prototypes of proposed systems are available, they may be compared under identical conditions with a benchmark test. This is appropriate when comparing system components, such as equivalent workstations, or firewalls, but enterprise-level information systems may not be directly comparable.

I recommend that ASI develops a point evaluation system for comparing proposed systems. Factors in the suitability of a system can be assigned a weight, and each proposed system's factors can be assigned a value based on how closely they match the goals of the project. Each factor's score is multiplied by the predetermined weighting, and a total score for each proposal is determined by adding each of its weighted factors together. This evaluation technique avoids many of the other techniques' shortfalls, and will provide a fair comparison between proposed systems.

The government will provide a high-speed Internet connection that terminates at the wood-framed administrative offices. I recommend running network cable throughout the administrative offices to ensure a reliable, high-speed intranet LAN connection for the servers and workstations located within. The wired LAN would also allow for wired access to the Internet connection, eliminating the susceptibility to interference of a purely wireless network.

Wireless access points could still be implemented within the administrative building as a convenience for mobile users, and clever network design could allow connections through those wireless access points to be subject to stricter security rules. This may be desirable to prevent wireless users from accessing the administration's intranet.

I recommend using WiFi to provide Internet access to the concrete prison buildings. A high-gain directional antenna can be used to wirelessly bridge from the wired network in the administrative building to the inmate housing. This bridge would also be disallowed access to the administrative intranet. The bridge can then be used to distribute that signal to lower powered omni-directional wireless hotspots within each concrete building, fulfilling the contracted provision of Internet connectivity to the inmates.

Wireless service for the prison buildings is convenient, as additional cables do not need to be run to provide Internet access if additional inmates are housed on site; all that is needed is a computer with a wireless network interface card. Current WiFi specifications can provide a high-speed Internet connection for multiple users, and the bandwidth provided to the inmates can be scaled up by adding more dedicated wireless bridges, if necessary.


Once a proposed system has been chosen for implementation, a detailed implementation plan is required for success. Hardware components required by the system must be acquired. For ASI, this includes purchasing networking hardware and cables for the Fraser Valley prison; and purchasing the new server(s).

Necessary software is acquired next. This category is wide-ranging, including licenses for off-the-shelf applications to operate the server, fees for custom-built user interfaces, and free update patches for software already licensed by ASI.

Users will require training so as to fully benefit from the new information system. The planned changes include custom software for log files, client cash accounts, and prison management capabilities. Employees will need to know how to access ASI's online policy manual, and how to send and retrieve email via the new corporate email system.

ASI's plan includes the recruitment of a network administrator. He will need to be hired, and familiarized with ASI's current and proposed network topography. Furthermore, training will be necessary for ASI's custom applications.

The administrative building site at the prison needs to be prepared for the imminent installation of system components. The new networking and server hardware may merit secure, locked cabinets. Office furnishings should be arranged in their intended configuration in anticipation of the system rollout.

Current data formats must be converted to formats useful for the new system. ASI's company policy manual , the paper payroll forms, and existing log files must be converted to a form needed in the new system.

Once the preparations are complete, the system hardware components can be installed on site. Cabling must be run; workstations, servers, and networking devices must be installed and connected; and each component should be verified as operating as intended.

The next phase is system testing. Each component application (e.g., the corporate email server, and the prison management application) must be tested, the system of components as a whole must be tested under normal and high-volume workloads, and user-determined acceptance tests should be run to ensure the delivered product matches the original system goals.

Once the system has been tested as acceptable, the start-up process begins, bringing the information system fully online and operational for ASI's daily business activities. ASI should consider a phase-in approach for system start-up, gradually implementing components of the new system, while still operating sections of the old system to ensure continuous service during the cutover to the new system.

Finally, a formal user acceptance document must be signed by ASI, wherein ASI indicates that the new information system is accepted as implemented. This document typically reduces the liability of third parties contracted to implement the system, so it should only be ratified when ASI is truly satisfied with the implementation of the new system.


After the new information system is operational, ASI should analyze the system's performance, measuring it against the original project goals, and ASI's corporate goals. Compare the functionality of the completed system with system design document. Verify that each planned change has been accomplished, and each component system is functioning as intended: online policy manual; corporate e-mail; custom logging, cash accounting, and prison management software; internet service for inmates; and client case management software.

The ultimate test is evaluating if the implemented information system meets the organizational goal of attaining competitive advantage over business rivals. Determine the completed project's success at providing an agile information system that can rapidly adapt to novel operating environments, as well as fluidly scale to meet the needs of additional contracts.

If the system is satisfactorily agile, determine if any concrete benefits have been realized from implementing the system, such as additional contracts for managing prisons. When evaluating an information system, always relate the success of the system to its success in achieving long-term corporate goals.


The proposed system has a lot of potential for privacy breaches. Many users with very different security needs will be using the same information system. Furthermore, that system will contain sensitive information about users of the system, such as employee payroll data, and inmate rehabilitation data. Access to all components of the system needs to be stringently secured and monitored.

Employee users must only have access to areas of the database necessary for their job functions. The wireless network supplying internet access to the inmates should be kept on a separate subnet from the administrative subnet, with access denied at the network hardware level. User accounts should enforce mandatory strong passwords and password changes. Audit trails and system logging should be enabled and actively monitored for unusual actions. System users should be educated on the importance of maintaining the secrecy of their user names and passwords, and the importance of respecting the private data of all users of the system.

In addition to the importance of internal security, the system is also connected to the Internet, so great care must be taken in securing the system from intrusion by unauthorized external users. The whole system should be segregated from the Internet by a robust enterprise firewall to prevent malicious connections. Each individual computer should maintain the latest software patches, and run security software with up-to-date malware definitions.

CGAs must adhere to the Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct (CEPROC). CEPROC requires CGAs to honour the trust bestowed upon them by others. This trust precludes a CGA from disclosing confidential information gained in the course of his professional relationships, except as necessitated by mandatory disclosure compelled by law, or when required to do so as the proper performance of CGA member duties.

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